Sunday, July 31, 2005

You must be careful who you pretend to be, because in the end you are who you pretend to be.

One of my favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut. There is just something about his approach to life and work that really appeals to me. The other day I was browsing through the Movie listings on my Tivo and I saw an entry for a movie called Mother Night. I had to stop and check it out. Could this really be an adaptation of Vonnegut's book? It was. I looked and saw that there were a couple of showings coming up and I taped one. I watched it and it was great. If you have never read the book, it's the story of a person, born in America, but raised in Germany from the age of 13. He became heavily involved in the pre WWII German culture and even became a famous playwright, married to a beautiful German actress. Just prior to the start of the war, he is approached to act as a spy for the Americans from within Germany during the coming war. He agrees and during the war, he rises to a place of prominence as a radio announcer broadcasting anti Ally propaganda in English. He is very good at his job, but he knows that in addition to the obvious content of his broadcast, he knows that there is a code hidden with his choreographed vocal tics, stops and pauses. The movie follows him as he deals with the fact that nobody will confirm his role as a spy and thus a hero to the Allied cause. He is seen as one of the worst war criminals of the Nazi war machine. The rest of the movie deals with the moral dilemma he faces. Is he a hero or a war criminal? Arguments can be made for both sides. I generally don't like stories with morals, especially obvious ones, but Vonnegut manages to give the story a moral without making it end with a trite happy ending. As the title states, "You must be careful who you pretend to be, because in the end you are who you pretend to be."

I think that statement has great import. It is a great warning as well as a great piece of wisdom. It's a warning in the same vein of, "If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas". Its a great piece of wisdom in that in that one of the best ways to become something that you want to be is to act like that thing. In either case you will eventually become what you are acting like.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Random Crap

The process of keeping this journal has been fascinating. When I started it was just a way to help augment my, at times, poor memory. It has become a little more than that, but it primarily remains a mechanism to record what I do so that when I'm an old drooling fool who barely remembers his own name, someone who's read this can say, "Hey Uncle Aaron, tell me about the time you jumped out of an airplane." This will of course trigger the blurpity blurp babblings that so often come out of those of us who've been around for a while. "Sonny, when I was your age, I jumped out of a plane with a man strapped to my back." Mwap mwaaap mwap mwap mwa? "No there wasn't anything wrong with the plane. I did it for fun." Wwap mwap mwa? "No the man was there to make sure I pulled the rip cord." That's how the conversation would go. Of course the person on the other end would be cornered and trapped into a two hour conversation about crap that happened a long time ago and means very little to him. Poor guy.

If you're reading this some time in the future and I'm an incoherent babbling old fool, please keep in mind that I wasn't always like that.

I think this post will mostly just be a list of general crap and not have some overriding theme. Not that any of these posts really have a theme, but I do try to keep it to one or two subjects.

Home repairs. Why is it that working on your own home sucks, but working on someone else's is fun? This Saturday I was at a friend’s house helping hang drywall. I really enjoyed myself, despite the heat. There were five of us working in a small space, so it was a little cramped. This job was interesting in that they were trying to match drywall to existing plaster and lath. Anybody who's worked with plaster and lath knows that it is never a uniform thickness. We did a good job getting the places where there were going to be joints and seams level, but I'm sure the mudding and taping will be fun. While this was going on, I had someone working on my own home. Since I bought the house a couple of months ago, there are things that have just been annoying me. First of these was the expansion foam that was sticking out of random places in my house. I've hired a person to come in and fix that and do some tuck pointing around the place. He's a pretty nice guy and he does pretty good work, but he doesn't seem extra worried about being punctual. It is now a week after when he'd said he'd be done, and there are still things to do. It is primarily because he doesn't seem to want to show up that much.

On another front, I have decided to try online dating. Let me rephrase that. I've started looking at online personals. I think historical there's been a bit of a social stigma to this, but I don't think it is reasonable, especially for someone of my generation to buy into that. In doing this, I've found that there are several hurdles that I'm needing to overcome. Primarily is the fact that I don't have a good picture of me. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. First, its very hard to take a natural looking picture of yourself. Second, I don't like to smile in pictures. I'm not sure why, but it just doesn't seem natural. Finally, there's the fact that I'm very new to this. And by this, I mean dating in general. I started dating late. I got into a serious and committed relationship very early in the process of dating. Finally, I stayed in that relationship for a very long time. I think all of these things have conspired to make me feel like I'm at a disadvantage when re-approaching dating. I've made a serious effort to be more outgoing and personable. I certainly feel more comfortable in crowds and large groups than I used to.

Last night, or rather Sunday night I responded to my first personal ad. I've not gotten a response yet, and I'm beginning to wonder if I will get one. Being a babe in the woods on this, I don't know the protocol for these situations. I also have the dilemma of my approach. Should I be careful and measured about who's ads I respond to, or do I respond to a whole bunch of ads and deal with the social and emotional consequences later. The first approach would certainly allow me to be more deliberate about things, but what are the parameters about how long I should wait for an answer and how long between meeting someone and deciding to move on or not. The second approach would be a more efficient, but is that what I'm really looking for in a relationship, efficiency? Moreover, I'm sure that the potentially awkward situations that arise from that approach would keep sitcom writers busy for years. I think I will stick with the first approach for now. If I don't get any results, then I might switch things up a little.

I just moved the server to another room and connected it directly to the switch, so things should be a bit more stable now. I had the server sitting on the other side of a wireless bridge. It worked some of the time, but for things like web serving, the results were sketchy at best.

For some reason I didn't sleep very well tonight. I woke up at around 2:30 in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. It's now 6:30 and I'm going to need to get ready for work soon. Ironically, I'm starting to feel as if I could take a nap.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm not dead on the inside. I swear.

Is it a bad sign when I say "I'm a sensitive person" and the person I'm talking to starts laughing like a fool?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Holy shit on a stick (Part 2)

Well I made it. I will say that the experience was exhilerating, terrifying and anticlimactic all at the same time. Exhilerating because I jumped out of a plane and lived. Terrifying because I jumped out of a plane. Anticlimactic because we spent an hour and a half driving to the drop zone, I spent several hours waiting for the jump, 30 minutes flying up to altitude, 40 seconds in free fall and about 6 minutes under the canopy. I paid for someone to take picutes and videotape it. You can see the pictures here. The whole experience cost me $250. Was it worth it? Hell yes. Will I do it again? Probably. It looks like the subsequent jumps will be $130 a piece, so while still an expensive hobby, I suppose I can swing it on occasion.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Holy shit on a stick

I will be skydiving for the first time tomorrow. It will be a tandem jump, so there's not much to what I need to know or do. They strap a guy who knows what he's doing to my back and throw me out of the plane. Want to know what I'm scared of the most? Crapping my pants. Imagine a minute or two in freefall with a load in your shorts and another guy strapped to your back. He pulls the rip cord and the load flies out your pant leg. What will be even more classic is that I will be having the whole thing taped and photographed.

Look honey. There's where I loaded up my shorts. I don't know where that came from. I generally don't eat that much corn.


And now see the look on my face when he pulls the rip cord. There was poop everywhere.

Ah. Memories.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2005

This picture has been rated PG-13 for Western Violence

I'm a movie nut, as well as a movie snob. I've been spending some time trying to work my way through all of the movies I should have seen by now, but hadn't. This week's was "Once Upon a Time In the West". I'm not much of a western fan and I don't really like Charles Bronson, so it took me a while to get around to watching this one. It's supposedly a classic. I'm about half way into it right now, and it might be. The thing that struck me as funny was the parental guidance warning at the beginning of the movie. It's rated PG-13. What struck me as weird was the statement underneath the rating. "This picture has been rated PG-13 for Western Violence and Brief Sensuality". I've also seen "Science Fiction Violence" and "Cartoon Violence". Does this really make a difference, what type of violence is depicted? Watching cowboy's shoot one another is somehow different from watching astronauts shoot at one another?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Going for a late night motorcycle ride.

For me there's nothing more relaxing that a little ride on the bike. If I can do it when the temperature is nice, all the better. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately the only time the temperature is nice this time of year is between 9 at night and 9 in the morning. That means I either have to stay out late or get up early. I'm completely incapable of getting up early, so I stay out late. This evening I was out until about 12:30.

When riding, it's always funny to watch the other people on the road. What can be most interesting is to watch the other motorcycle riders. When riding, there is this unspoken rule, that (when possible to do so safely) you wave at other riders you see. This is nice, because you get the sense of belonging to an organization without the other tedious burdens of membership. Some groups of riders are more likely to wave than others, and some only wave at certain types of bikes. These lines can usually be drawn along the lines of what type of bike the person is riding. The friendliest riders on the road? That would be anybody on a goldwing. I'm not sure if they are so friendly because they are riding a couch that can more or less steer itself, or because they're really just that friendly. The least friendly? I hate to say it, but it's usually some asshole on a Harley that he obviously only rides on weekends when the weather is nice.

There are a lot of things about this second group of people that I don't like. I hate the fact that they are usually wearing Harley Davidson apparel that is color matched to their bike. I'm annoyed by the fact that they are obviously wearing their "riding clothes". This usually consists of a freshly laundered and pressed black Sturgis t-shirt, a new pair of blue jeans, shiny black boots that they wear once a week, and a bandana. These are people who'd never be caught dead wearing a bandana any other time in their life. Why do they think it looks good now? These are also people that wear dockers and a polo to work or even worse a suit. If you wear "business casual" durring the day, it doesn't make you any more interesting to dress in black when you ride your bike.

What I just love to see is a guy with a pager on his belt when riding. What the hell is that for? Are you going to check your messages at a light. For Christ's sake turn it off for a minute and just ride. The thing that annoys me the most are the couples who are wearing Harley Davidson branded clothes from head to toe. Leather vest, leather chaps, leather boots, a leather bandana, and matching Harley Davidson t-shirts. Everything bearing a huge logo. The bike will of course be fully dressed with custom seats and saddle bags. The seats and saddle bags always have concho's, and leather fringe. There are few things in this world (besides Precious Moments figurines) more insipid than these people.

Here's a question for you..... Why do people put fringe on their bike? I see people who've got long leather fringe hanging from their grips, and I wonder how in the hell they get back from a ride and not have their arms welted and looking like hamburger. Don't those little strips of leather just flail in the wind? Wouldn't that just whip at your forearms anytime you take the bike up over 40mph.

Let me just say, that all Harley riders fall into this category, just most of them near where I live. I was out riding once, and stopped to gas up. As I was sitting there drinking a water, another group of riders pulled up. These fellas were obviously a little different crowd than I'd meet back in town. The one nearest me was wearing a grubby sturgis tshirt, a helmet with tons of stickers, the most obvious of which was one that said "Fuck You". He was wearing white leather tennis shoes, and leather pants that he'd obviously been wearing the last time he came off the bike. His pants had skid marks all up the right side. He'd obviously been riding for a while that day, because his face and helmet were covered with dead bugs. I nodded a greeting to him, which he returned with a withering stare. I can stand the cold shoulder treatment from this type of guy. He's earned the right to be an asshole when he's riding, because he's probably an asshole all the time. He's probably been fired from most of his jobs because of attitude problems. His 5th grade report card has "Does not work and play well with others" written in the notes section. I can picture his wife, barefoot and pregnant, beer in one hand, and cigarette in the other shouting "Asshole!!!" at him as he slams the front door to their trailer. His own mother probably calls him an asshole. I can tolerate this asshole being an asshole to me. Mostly because I have to. He'd probably kick my ass otherwise. I can't however stomach some yuppy putz who has a happy wife, 2.4 kids and a half million dollar house in the suburbs being an asshole. Wave at me when I ride past you, you fucking poser!!!!

Man I love riding my motorcycle. It's so relaxing.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Cross Dressing, Transvestites and the Fourth of July

Where is the line drawn between cross dressing and being a transvestite. I ask this question, so that I can properly describe a couple of things I saw today. This being the Fourth of July, it is my patriotic duty to go somewhere, eat food with friends, drink beer and blow shit up. Well, I wasn't feeling very patriotic, so I just ate the food, while drinking soda. No explosions were involved. This was all accomplished at my Sister's friends house. Emillie (my sister) was having a barbeque at a friend house and asked if I wanted to come over. I of course said yes, knowing that this would involve a half an hour drive over to her house. Living in Kansas prepared me to accept long drives to get anywhere interesting. I live in Missouri now, but I'm still OK with the drives. This drive took me down I-70. Just as I was hitting the city limits I noticed a couple of cars parked on the right shoulder and that the front car had a flat tire. There were two guys up front changing the tire, and a third standing in front of the car. The third one caught my eye, because he had blue hair and was wearing a blue shirt. As I got closer I realized that it wasn't blue hair, but rather a blue wig, and that what I thought was a shirt was really a short blue sequined dress. Interestingly there was never a doubt in my mind that this was a man, because if it was a woman she would have had a hormone problem. This guy was built like an athlete. I didn't think about this a whole lot, because my exit was comming up and I needed to slow down and switch lanes. I exited onto another highway, and continued on my trip. As I continued on, I passed several cars. (Those of you who've driven with me before shouldn't be surprised that I passed someone.) As I switched lanes to pass this red Corola that I was approaching I noticed that one of the passengers had neon pink hair. As I got closer I was able to see that this person had on a pink sequined top (probably a dress) and was also built like a football player. Is this a coincidence or am I going crazy. Seeing one man wearing a wig and a sequined dress is a little odd, but two in 10 minutes is a little unnerving. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with someone making their own rules about what is and is not gender appropriate attire. I am however a reasonable person and I was traveling through Kansas (one of the most red of all red states) and you generally don't see many men wearing dresses. If I were to guess what is going on, I'd imagine that the two sitings were related, and these two gentlemen were on their way to some sort of function where men wearing dresses wouldn't be frowned upon. The first thing that came to mind was a Cross Dressing convention. Then I began to wonder if it would be a Cross Dressing or a Transvestite convention. Are they the same thing? In my mind a Cross Dresser sounds like a less commited individual than a Transvestite. Is there a difference, or are they the same thing? Where do you draw the line? Did I see two Cross Dressers or two Transvestites? How would I have known? What are the criteria?